Under the Bed

Annex's new show is like Alice in Wonderland without the acid.

How impressed would you have been to see Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas or Terry Gilliam's Brazil trotted out on the stage with thrift-store production values? Patrons sat similarly slack-jawed for the first half-hour at the opening night of Blind Spot, a latter-day Alice in Wonderland fantasy that builds its world without benefit of CGI, makeup, or even proper sets. To scale such heights without the help of the technology we've come to expect is like asking a bunch of really strong NASA engineers to see if they can put their shoulders to a space shuttle and heave it heavenward. But through the elbow grease of some very fine actors, this enchanting new play by Bret Fetzer and Juliet Waller Pruzan (with songs by Rick Miller) actually achieves liftoff.Admittedly, the show is off-putting at first. The opening scene is close to an hour long and features the actors sitting at a long table, suggesting that somehow we've stumbled onto a staged reading of the script. That the production started nearly 15 minutes late didn't help either. But slowly (sometimes excruciatingly so) Blind Spot wends its way into your imagination.The plot isn't much more than the fevered daydream of young Kirsty Vanderkamp (Jennifer Pratt), who distracts herself from the unbearable reality of her parents' separation by shrinking herself to the size of a match head to explore her home and the fantastical creatures she envisions living there (a conceit more than a little familiar to anyone acquainted with Horton Hears a Who). Pretending to be an intrepid journalist embedded in her own home, Kirsty is able to spend time interviewing a family of dust-bunny farmers who live in the vast expanse under her bed, the effete folks who live high above in the china cabinet (the hub of a publishing empire whose crown jewel is the society magazine Dish), and the freedom fighters who live in the drainpipes. In this minuscule world, Kirsty tracks Iota Potts (Joe Feeney), who abandons his father's dust-bunny farm to seek fortune and the elusive hand of Aura Rotter (Alissa Mortenson). She's a social climber willing to do whatever and whoever will advance her station in life. His dewy innocence turns to cynicism and finally mercenary work incounterterrorism.None of this would have succeeded without the hardworking (and clearly tickled) cast assembled by director Rachel Katz Carey. Excepting the principals, all ensemble members play the diminutive denizens of the Vanderkamp household, and it's their ability to invest in the smallest of roles that help this alternate reality seem momentarily plausible.If Blind Spot does have one serious point to make, it's that in a world of technical marvels, it's worthwhile to re-engage our own imaginations every once in a while. Having grown up in an age before MTV began to dictate our visual impressions of songs through music videos, when Batman referred to a potbellied actor in long johns, and the Starship Enterprise occasionally wobbled on strings, I found Blind Spot something of a revelation: I saw new life and new civilizations, and boldly went where no man had gone before. Way cool. stage@seattleweekly.com

 
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